Saturday, February 22, 2014

Alpine teachers, who began strike on Thursday Feb. 20, 2014, reach accord with district

See all posts re Alpine Union School District.

UPDATE Feb. 25, 2014:

Alpine teachers, district reach tentative accord
By Karen Pearlman
Feb. 25, 2014

ALPINE — A tentative agreement between striking Alpine teachers and the Alpine Union School District was reached in the earliest hours on Tuesday after a fourth day of negotiations.

The agreement, announced by Alpine Union School District Superintendent Tom Pellegrino and Alpine Teachers Association president Gayle Malone at 1:20 a.m. Tuesday, was promptly disseminated to the 91 teachers represented by the union for a vote.

"TA reached! Strike ended," Pellegrino wrote in a text message.

"I think it's the best deal we can do right now at this point in time," said Alpine Teachers Association president Gayle Malone at 1:35 in the morning.

A ratification meeting for Alpine teachers began at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday at Joan MacQueen Middle School.

By 8 a.m. when the voting was over, 69 votes have been cast with 96% in favor of the proposal and 4% against.

The details include:

For the 2013-14 school year, teachers will take a 5.58 percent salary cut effective April 1. For 2014-15, they will take a 3.78 percent cut effective July 1 if gap funding reaches 28 percent. The school district had imposed a 7.58 percent pay cut at the end of January when contract talks stalled.
Staff will have two development days paid at a daily rate.
The district will contribute a maximum of $9,500 in health care benefits retroactive to Jan. 1, 2014.
Furlough days will be six this academic year and seven in 2014-15.
The work day is not to exceed seven and a half hours.
The retirement incentive, nonexistent before, is now $8,000 if teachers submit a letter by March 5.

Teachers union bargaining member Theresa Horton, at the ratification meeting said, "We have to leave the path and move forward. You can't heal if you keep picking at the scabs. These kids need to be in their seats so the district can collect their ADA."

More than six proposals were batted back and forth just on Monday, according to Robbi Skovmand, a bargaining member for the teachers union and a Joan MacQueen Middle School teacher.

“We’ve never worked so hard for a pay cut,” she said. “For ATA, it was to restore salary and get as high a health cap as we could. Our goal was restoration.“

Skovmand said that both sides remained respectful and worked hard throughout the negotiations that totaled nearly 40 hours in the past four days.

“It’s an insanely slow process coming together on issues and talking them through. Our goal was to get kids back to the classroom and teachers back to the classroom.”

After casting his vote to return to the classroom, Joan MacQueen Middle School eighth grade teacher Brendan Casey said, "I am actually feeling pretty happy. I believe the restorations are fair for both sides. It's a complex web, not just about one particular issue. I am heading to my classroom in six minutes."...

"The district and teacher leaders worked into the early morning on Tuesday, Feb. 25 and reached an agreement that both parties can stand behind," Pellegrino wrote in a statement to parents of students in the rural district. "The strike has ended! We know that your child will be extremely happy to see our Alpine teachers back. We are too! We are committed to maintaining the high level of education that you have grown to expect and deserve. Teachers will be back in the classroom Tuesday."...

CORRECTION Feb. 23, 2014: This post originally incorrectly stated that Fred Kamper was involved in Alpine Unified. He was not.

UPDATE Feb. 21, 2014: Alpine district teachers strike goes into a second day

Alpine teachers strike for a 2nd day
By Amanda Shotsky
Channel 6
Fri, 21 Feb 2014

(ALPINE) - A war of words and wages continues in Alpine. It's day two of a strike involving dozens of teachers who say they are being treated unfairly.

"We all have lost sleep and we are stressed," says teacher Candy Melon.

Teachers staged protests at 5 area schools.

"We have fabulous teachers that need to be paid fairly," says teacher Wendy Yoshinaga.

Friday the Alpine Teachers Association agreed to sit down with the district for another round of negations.

This coming one day after a heated board meeting where parents voiced concern over their kids attending school amid chaos.

It's the latest chapter in a long battle over budget woes. Back in July the district imposed a 7.58% salary cut for teachers and significantly trimming health benefits.

The ATA is accusing the district of underestimating the amount of state funding allotted for this year. But Superintendent Tom Pellegrino says that's not the case.

"There isn't more money," says Pellegrino. "If we would have accepted the ATA's last proposal it would have bankrupted our schools."

According to Pellegrino, the district's proposal would have actually restored more than 4% of the original pay cut by July.

"We'll go back to the table in June," says Yoshinaga. "We want to settle this and get back into the classroom now."


Alpine school district, teachers to return to negotiations
By Caroline Dipping
Feb. 21, 2014

ALPINE — After one day of a teachers strike, the Alpine Union School District has asked the teachers union to come back to the table. A bargaining session is set for 11 a.m. today at the district office on Administration Way in Alpine...

Alpine teachers launch strike
By Karen Pearlman
Feb. 20, 2014

Teachers in the Alpine Union School District began their strike Thursday morning, the latest chapter in a more than year-long conflict over how to balance the district's budget.

It's the first teachers strike in San Diego County since 1996. The main disagreements between the Alpine district administration and the teachers union include how much state education funding the district expects to receive this year, how much of a salary reduction teachers should bear and how much the district should contribute to teachers' health-care benefits.

On Jan. 31, the district imposed a 7.58 percent salary cut for teachers and trimmed its maximum contributions to employee health benefits from $13,500 to $8,000 a year.

These cuts are projected to bring down the deficit in the district’s nearly $14.7 million operating budget from $1.05 million to $623,000. Similar cuts proposed for nonteaching employees, who will begin negotiations Friday, along with anticipated new state revenue are expected to get Alpine out of the red by June 30.

The Alpine Teachers Association contends, among other things, that district officials are underestimating the amount of state funding scheduled for this year and have decided to disproportionately harm teachers instead of considering other expenditure cuts. The district's administrators maintain that all other reductions have been considered, and that the teachers union is unwilling to make necessary sacrifices.

The controversy reached a new threshold with Thursday's strike.

Shortly after 6:30 a.m., nearly 100 teachers from Alpine and other school districts, some members of the California Teachers Association and other supporters marched down Tavern Road in front of Joan MacQueen Middle School to launch the strike.

They held signs, shared stories and waved to passing motorists.

MacQueen seventh-grade teacher Lori Hernandez said she and her colleagues are not being unreasonable.

"This is not about a raise for teachers," she said. "We are actually striking for a fair pay cut."

Parents soon began dropping off their children at the campus for the school's 7:35 a.m. start of classes, and many of them gave the "thumb's up" sign to the protesters.

...On Tuesday, Alpine Superintendent Tom Pellegrino had written in an email that proposals by the Alpine Teachers Association would “bankrupt the district.”

“The district has continued to make concessions with proposals that stretch as far as humanly possible to reach an agreement,” Pellegrino wrote. “At the same time, union leadership continues to demand more money and move away from the tentative agreement that the ATA negotiating team agreed to on Jan. 31.”

Alpine teachers who join the walkout won't get paid for any strike days, and they can't use vacation or sick time, according to Bill Guy, spokesman for the California Teachers Association.

A strike relief fund — currently at more than $20,000 — made up of voluntary contributions from teachers associations and individuals throughout the state may be distributed to some Alpine teachers, Guy said. Typically, this assistance is reserved for those who most need it in the short term.

As of Thursday morning, officials with the Alpine district and teachers union had not ventured an estimate on how long the strike might last. They also had not scheduled any further negotiation meetings.

Pellegrino said the district is up for further negotiations and he is "saddened by the fact the kids are put in the mix of employer/employee disputes." He entreated the teachers to return to their classrooms and said, "If I could pay them double, I would do it today, but I will not put forward a deal that would bankrupt the district."

Outside of Joan MacQueen Middle School on Thursday morning, the striking Alpine teachers were joined by instructors from South County, Ramona and Imperial County.

Gayle Malone, president of the Alpine Teachers Association, said she heard further support would be coming later Thursday from teachers in Bakersfield and Riverside counties...

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